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DDC Journal: Blurring the Line between Renting and Home Ownership

May 1, 2015
Korman Residential Properties DDC Journal

Realizing the importance of lifestyle, real estate firm Korman Residential has developed new Initiatives for its properties, including smoke-free apartments, community gardens, dog parks and a bike share program.

“One of the common things we hear when we go into new markets or new properties is that the occupancy has been stuck at a certain level,” says Jim Korman, President. “A lot of times, competing properties will create concessions and essentially trade residents back and forth. Our lifestyle initiatives are designed in such a way that people won’t ever want to leave.”

“These initiatives have allowed us to blur the line between renting an apartment and buying a home.” You don’t typically think of teaching your kids how to grow tomatoes while renting. You usually associate gardening with owning a home,” Korman says. “The same thing goes with our dog parks. You no longer need to own a house for your dog to be able to run freely outside.”

Quality rental housing

Managing approximately 5,000 multifamily units, Korman Residential has thrived over the years because of its commitment to offering a superior rental experience.

“When I came into the business 25 years ago, one of the big axioms was that apartments were just four walls,” Korman says, “and it is the people that make the difference. I agree that our people are our most important asset, but over time, I began to question the second part of that. I tend to look at an apartment as much more than just four walls. It can be so much more!”

Banks are making it more difficult than ever for people to get loans for homeownership, so living in one of the Korman properties enables renters to enjoy many of the perks associated with homeownership.

The property owner and third-party manager operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.

“We are trying to create communities in such a way that [residents] will be much more reluctant to ever leave,” Korman says. “If you are used to watching your dog run around the dog park or teaching your kids how to grow vegetables, when your lease comes up for renewal, you are going to be hesitant to move someplace else where you are not going to have that. If you are in one of our smoke-free buildings, you may not be so quick to move once you’ve enjoyed a completely smoke-free environment.”

Blazing a trail

The firm has a history of innovation and has led movements within the industry. “In the late 1950’s, Korman [Residential] was one of the first companies to actually put carpet in apartments. Prior to that, it was hardwood floors,” Korman says. The company was also one of the first to provide extended-stay housing, similar to a hotel, with furnished corporate apartments in the early 1960’s. “We have always tried to lead the way.”

Sustainability efforts

To meet the demand for more environmentally conscious renters, Korman Residential offers Earth Friendly Apartments, which incorporate eco and Earth-friendly design, and locally sourced, renewable materials.

“They have been wildly popular,” Korman says. “We can’t build them fast enough. Today’s renter is very environmentally conscious. There is a lot of debate in the industry over whether putting forth a green product can be economically feasible. I am here to say that it is, because our Earth Friendly Apartments typically fetch $200 over the market rate of the same apartment not equipped with all of the Earth-friendly components.”

Korman Residential is currently introducing Micro-Apartments, ranging in size from 250 - 450 square feet. “Typically, studio apartments are not the most desirable apartments and can be difficult to rent, so we created something new and exciting. Our Micro-Apartments are transformable and feature smart storage and cutting-edge technology.,” Korman says.

Korman Residential’s methods have been successful in the markets in which it operates, and Korman says the company plans to expand geographically.

“I want to continue to expand our footprint to different markets because I truly believe that our Lifestyle Initiatives, Earth Friendly Apartments and Micro Apartments will be popular everywhere,” he says.

Originally Published by DDC Journal, Spring 2014

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